A leading Oxford University cosmologist says he has been able to observe the effects of cosmic events that preceded the Big Bang.
Roger Penrose says that by examining the cosmic microwave background radiation, he's discovered echoes of events before the Big Bang that's generally believed to have kicked off our universe.
Penrose says that black hole encounters prior to the Big Bang would leave an observable affect on our own universe, in the form of concentric circles around galaxy clusters within which there would be anomolously low variation in temperature.
Penrose has long posited the idea that so-called inflationary theory - the idea that the universe was crated by the Big Bang and has been expanding ever since - is wrong. Instead, he proposes a theory called Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, which requires no beginning to the universe.
And the data backs this theory up, he says.
"The analysis of Wilkinson Microwave Background Probe's (WMAP) cosmic microwave background 7-year maps does indeed reveal such concentric circles," he says in a report on the Arvix website.
"This is confirmed when the same analysis is applied to BOOMERanG98 data, eliminating the possibility of an instrumental cause for the effects. These observational predictions of CCC would not be easily explained within standard inflationary cosmology."
The circles would have been created by a series of 'shockwaves' representing events before the last Big Bang.
"If you're not accepting inflation, you've got to have something else which does what inflation does. In the scheme that I'm proposing, you have an exponential expansion but it's not in our aeon - I use the term to describe [the period] from our Big Bang until the remote future," Penrose told the BBC.
"I claim that this aeon is one of a succession of such things, where the remote future of the previous aeons somehow becomes the Big Bang of our aeon."